Food and Housing
Most guests that come to Longo Mai live with a host family and stay in a spare room in their home, often constructed especially for guests. Depending on how many people you are traveling with, you will likely have a roommate and your group could be spread out across multiple houses. Houses here are equipped with 3-4 bedrooms, a kitchen, a living area, and a bathroom. All houses have showers, running water (with safe to drink tap water), and flush toilets. When using the bathroom, however, you must make sure not to flush toilet paper, as the plumbing is not made for it. This is true throughout Costa Rica.
Most houses are located within a few minutes of each other, and all are walking distance from major stores/buildings in the community. Longo Mai has two stores where you can purchase some types of foods and other goods, but most meals will be provided be your host family. Common dishes in Longo Mai include rice and beans, pupusas, meats, and locally grown vegetables and fruit such as bananas, lemons or oranges. Most beverages are natural and come from fruits. Dietary restrictions and specific recommendations can be accommodated, but it is best to make this known in advance before your arrival or at the moment when you look for a room upon arrival.
Things to Know
– Most houses of Longo Mai sit at a lower elevation (650 to 750 meters above sea level) than San Jose does, and the region is located close to the equator so expect hot (particularly around midday) and humid temperatures regardless of what time of year you choose to come. However, temperatures generally are agreeably cool from 4 or 5pm till 8 to 10am the next morning. Homestay beds offer blankets for comfort.
– People in Longo Mai speak Spanish, and a few also speak English and/or German as well. They are patient with visitors who use phone apps or dictionaries to help while they learn to communicate.
– You likely will not have access to hot water or air conditioning, though it does cool off well at night, even in the hottest months.
– Longo Mai has two major seasons- the dry season and wet season. The wet season usually lasts from the beginning of May to the end of November and the dry season usually lasts from December to April.
– You may not have consistent Wifi or cell service while in Longo Mai, though local SIM cards work in some places in town for phone and data. Residents do have access and will gladly help in emergency situations.
Room and board costs can vary, and it is best to use the contact page for the most up-to-date rates. Most activities can be done for under $10. Costa ricans use colones as their currency, and travelers coming in from abroad can exchange currency at the airport (see FAQ’s) in San Jose or in any bank. In Costa Rica, it is best to count on using cash outside of big cities and tourist areas.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Longo Mai have an address?
The postal address for Longo Mai is:
Coope Longo Mai
Mrs./Mr. Given name Surname
11901 San Isidro de El General
Can I still stay in Longo Mai if I don't speak Spanish?
Yes! There are Spanish classes offered in Longo Mai and some people in the community speak English or German that could help. If you’d like to talk to someone who visited without any Spanish knowledge, you can contact Liza Bunce at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I just landed at the San Jose Airport and do not have a car. How can I get to Longo Mai?
The cheapest way to get to San José city from the San José airport is to take a Tuasa bus. From San José, it takes about 3.5-4 hours to get from the city to the bus stop (parada) of Longo Mai, and you want the Tracopa bus company. Either an airport taxi or taxi in San Jose will take you to the Tracopa bus station and the bus will stop in San Isidro on the way, about 45 minutes away from Longo Mai. Bus tickets usually read “Convento,” as destination. You should tell the bus driver that you wish to be dropped off in Longo Mai, about 1km further down the road. You can request the driver to take you all the way to Longo Mai by saying “por favor para en Longo Mai.” The bus will let you off at the bottom of a 2 km gravel road that goes up to the village. If you prefer to travel the gravel road with a car, this can be arranged for a fee by calling Doña Edith (see contact page). You can even be picked up on horseback, with prior arrangement (arranged at least 1 day before).
I just landed at the San Jose Airport and I rented a car. How do I get to Longo Mai?
The Juan Santamaria Airport in San José is located 190km away from the entrance to Longo Mai. The most direct route involves taking Route 2 and heading directly south. The trip takes a little over four hours. The Google map on this site can be used for navigation.
What address/name should I give Costa Rica customs for my stay?
Give them the address of the guest house or hotel where you will pass your first night. If you are planning on going straight to Longo Mai, you can show the static map from the home page of the website, or tell them you are going to San Isidro de General.
What is the closest city to Longo Mai?
San Isidro is located about 30-40 minutes away from Longo Mai. It is a relatively small city with shopping, super markets, banks and hospitals.
Does Longo Mai have Wi-Fi/Internet?
There is very little Wifi and Internet in this area, although several houses and businesses here do have their own private wifi networks. If you buy a local SIM card (available at stores in San José or San Isidro) it is possible to have phone and data.
Where is the closest hospital to Longo Mai? What if I don't have a car?
The closest hospital is in San Isidro, about a 30-40 minute drive from Longo Mai. Some residents in Longo Mai have cars and can help in an emergency. There is an ambulance service as well (though it may be faster by car). Some families have a first aid kit and some members of this community also have medical training as well and can be of assistance.
The country-wide emergency number is 911.
Are there any short-term volunteer opportunities?
The majority of activities that might be considered volunteer work or projects are only feasible for visitors that are in Longo Mai at the same time the races or festivals are going on, or plan to stay for at least a couple of weeks. Once there, however, you can ask around to see if there is anything within the community you can help with, as the opportunities are limited only by your imagination and capacity to communicate with the local people.
How can I exchange currency?
If you fly into the San José airport, you can find an ATM that will let you exchange currency as well as currency exchange counters (although the counters don’t offer good exchange rates). ATMs can be found all over the country and will let you get cash in colones.
When do buses leave for San Isidro, the beach, San Jose, or Panama?
The website Costa Rica by Bus has a wealth of information you can search for about bus routes that traverse Costa Rica and some friendly English speakers who answer questions. https://www.facebook.com/groups/CostaRicaByBus/
What are worthwhile trips around Longo Mai in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, or Panama?
Some popular trips people take while in Costa Rica/Longo Mai include going to the beaches in the South, visiting local indigenous groups, and exploring some of our national parks, such as Chirripó, Parque Nacional Marino Ballena, Corcovado or others. We suggest asking residents of Longo Mai and other travelers.
What are some things I should make sure to pack with me?
– Reusable Water Bottle- Make sure to drink lots of water while in Longo Mai. Particularly January to April around midday it can be very hot and the water is delicious as well as filtered and tested for safety.
– Sunscreen, preferably with natural ingredients. The sun is fierce, and protection is needed.
– Bug spray made of natural ingredients.
– A rain poncho or umbrella.
– Good outdoor shoes such as hiking boots.
– A hat to protect from the sun.